Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

Ways to Connect

(Courtesy Emerald Automotive)

Whatever happened to that company that planned to build electric delivery vans — and create 600 jobs — in Hazelwood?

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Kathie Harnacker is house hunting in Ferguson.

She braved relentless rain on Sunday afternoon to tour a compact three-bedroom brick ranch on a tree-lined street in the Old Ferguson West neighborhood.

“This house is great,’’ she said, while standing in the lush patio garden. “It looks well-maintained. It looks like a very nice neighborhood.”

Courtesy Madison County Fair Association

Organizers of the Madison County Fair say the 120-year-old event will go on as usual this week, despite the ongoing lack of funding from the state of Illinois.

This is the second year for the state's budget impasse, which has held up funds earmarked for county fairs. Organizers from across the state have scrambled to make do, said Wayne Steiner, president of the Madison County Fair Association.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Wanda Trotter, 68, thought about her childhood as she watched a play at the Missouri History Museum depicting the experiences of African-Americans traveling Route 66 before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations.

“I remember my parents packing our lunches and telling us that certain places you could not go to eat, or to use the bathroom facilities,’’ said Trotter. Her  family drove the famous highway from St. Louis to San Diego, Calif., in the early 1960s to visit her brother who was in the Navy.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Fans of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle will hold their 18th annual festival on Sunday, their first gathering since the Collinsville landmark changed ownership last November.

Mike “The Big Tomato” Gassmann, president of the water tower’s preservation group, say he's relishing the occasion.

“We’re really happy with our new owner, and we’re really looking forward to the future,’’ said Gassmann, who wears a button on his cap that reads “I put catsup on my ketchup.”

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story published June 23, updated June 30 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air."

Just in time for summer, the Missouri History Museum is taking a road trip down Route 66 with a colorful exhibit on the Mother Road that opens Saturday.

The focus is St. Louis’ place along the famous roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country motoring in 1926.  The ribbon of pavement stretched 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, touching eight states along the way. 

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“Dogtown? How did it get its name?"

That was the query to Curious Louis from attorney Nathan Goldberg, who wondered about the colorful name of the historic St. Louis neighborhood located just south of Forest Park.

itunes gift cards
401(k)2013 | flickr | 401kcalculator.org

Beware of scammers who’ve discovered the convenience of iTunes gift cards, warns the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

It’s just a new version of an old song: Thieves ask for iTunes entertainment cards to pay for counterfeit or nonexisting merchandise, or even to settle debt. The goods and services are bogus, and the consumer is out of luck.

Provided by family

On Memorial Day, Beth (Clover) Vincent of Warrenton, Mo., will honor the father she never knew: an Air Force pilot who went missing during the Korean War. 

But Vincent will find some solace this year in knowing that the people of South Korea appreciate the sacrifice her family made six decades ago. She was among the families of American Korean War veterans who spent last week visiting Seoul as guests of South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Wikipedia

Updated 10:25 a.m., May. 25 with winning proposal: A developer has been selected to reopen the landmark Bevo Mill in south St. Louis. The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority says Pat and Carol Schuchard have been chosen for the project. They already own two event venues: the Boo Cat Club and the Majorette.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Vietnam veterans told an Illinois task force on Monday that the Veterans Administration should be doing a better job of treating depression and post-traumatic stress.

The Illinois Task Force on Veterans’ Suicides is holding hearings throughout the state to investigate ways to prevent suicide among Illinois veterans. Nationally, 22 veterans kill themselves every day.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

On a warm spring afternoon, Italian archaeology students from the University of Bologna were painstakingly sifting through mud from a pit they’re excavating at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.

Heading the group is Imma Valese, 29, who’s been coming to Cahokia Mounds for six years. She has written her master’s thesis on the ancient Mississippian culture that thrived at Cahokia 1,000 years ago. Now, she’s working on her doctorate.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Alderson and Nelson Grman spend hours at Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Ill., about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis, looking after the monument to Mother Jones, the fearless union organizer who crusaded for workers’ rights a century ago.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

When Robert Charles Howard retires as conductor of the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra in a few weeks, he hopes a certain musical instrument will follow in his footsteps: an aging 32-inch timpani that has lost much of its luster.

“I’ll miss the job, but I won’t miss this,” Howard said with a smile, as he rolled the dented kettle drum back into its place in the instrument storage room at the orchestra’s rehearsal hall in downtown Belleville.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The 2016 baseball season finally starts HERE on Monday.

There’ll be a sea of red in the stands at Busch Stadium and Clydesdales circling the warning track, as Cardinals fans put a rocky week of on-the-road baseball behind them and welcome home their 2015 National League Central Division champs.

Scroll down for info on opening day ceremonies -- a highlight will be the first pitch by beloved Hall-of-Famer Lou Brock -- and changes fans can expect at the ball yard this season.

And, because it’s the 10th anniversary of the stadium, we begin with a little quiz.

Mike Michaud, assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The declining jobless rate for U.S. veterans is a good sign, but the need for training and employment services will continue to grow, said Mike Michaud, assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment, who was in St. Louis Wednesday to visit the St. Patrick Center.

The Goldenrod Showboat's final resting place: The Illinois River, near Kampsville, Ill.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteers will gather on Thursday at a remote spot on the Illinois River to say their final farewells to the Goldenrod Showboat, a St. Louis landmark they worked relentlessly to preserve.

The century-old showboat suffered irreparable damage last summer during efforts to save it from the flooding river. Since then, volunteers have worked on weekends to remove artifacts -- chandeliers and gilded mirrors, furnishings and photographs -- for future display in museums.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

"Why does the Civil War still hold sway over St. Louis and Missouri?”

That was the intriguing — and very large — question that Steve Flick submitted to Curious Louis. “We just can't seem to be able to get beyond the Reconstruction Era in this state,” said Flick, a lifelong St. Louisan.

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

Organizers are expecting hundreds of volunteers at the annual Confluence Trash Bash on Saturday morning to clean up trash and debris from riverbanks and streams in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

The Trash Bash focuses on the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and has nine work sites stretching from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to Creve Coeur Lake. This is the eighth year for the event, which is one of the largest litter cleanups in the St. Louis area.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Fog added a magical touch to the drive along the Great River Road in Illinois on Sunday. 

For much of the day, the fog held thick over the water at Grafton, the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. By dusk, the blanket had thinned, offering stunning photo ops.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Operations manager Robbie Pratte pointed to an orange line on a utility post outside the landmark Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., that is set to reopen on Tuesday.

Provided by The Coliseum Ballroom Documentary Project

They’ll be rocking to the oldies Saturday night at the civic center in Gillespie, Ill., where a crowd of a certain age will gather to share memories of the old Coliseum Ballroom, which was destroyed by fire in 2011.

Lazarus, a male Mexican wolf, at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteer Lisa Houska is hunkered down next to a tall cyclone fence at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka. She’s peering at a hillside, observing a handsome pair of thick-furred Mexican wolves and their three pups that were born last year.

“We’re watching Sibi and Lazarus. This is their second breeding season,’’ Houska whispers.

For two hours on this unseasonably warm winter morning she’ll sit motionless, trying not to disturb the family. She’s hoping to witness another successful courtship between mom and dad.

Joe the Goat Farmer | Flickr

Congratulations! You've just clicked on what could be the most SHOCKING/INFORMATIVE/FRIGHTENING news that you will read Today/Tomorrow/ForTheRestOfYourLife: Those IQ and personality quizzes that your friends are sharing on Facebook could be scams, according to the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The old water tower in Millstadt, Ill., wears an unflattering coat of rust these days, but preservationists say the nearly 85-year-old landmark is as solid as the American steel used to build it during the Great Depression. They call the tower the “Tin Man,” and they’ve been working  to save “him” from the wrecking ball. 

Provided by VA St. Louis Health Care System

The eighth interim director to lead the VA St. Louis Health Care System is Keith Repko, who has been deputy director of the agency for more than a year.

Repko says he will continue to focus on improving access to health care for area veterans.

Max Wehlte / Wikipedia | goo.gl/qoytTF

Scammers have been targeting artists, and it’s not a pretty picture, says the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

The scam is a twist on the “fake check” or “overpayment” schemes that have been around for years.

Photo by Nassim Benchaabane for St. Louis Public Radio

The VA St. Louis Health Care System has cut the waiting time for appointments in recent months, but the improvement is “fragile,” says Patricia Ten Haaf, who is leaving the agency after serving as its acting director since May. 

The Goldenrod sits along an Illinois river bank.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteers have worked countless hours salvaging artifacts from the century-old Goldenrod Showboat that was once a fixture on the St. Louis riverfront, says Jake Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association that’s been working to restore the vessel.

Photo courtesy Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Despite reduced park hours, the head of the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society says the year was brighter than expected at the Illinois state historic site, which is the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico.

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